Staying in motels on the road always means a window into life outside my bubble--encounters in elevators, free breakfast at Hampton Inn. Sure, we try to do things in Portland that keep us in touch with the known universe but it is a challenge for old people. In our retirement community no one is poor. Is anyone worried about paying next month's fees? I would not know. Because we have an active foundation trust fund to provide financial support to those who have exhausted their funds.
When we attend Portland State for classes/lectures, we see a homeless person or two. Going further downtown, there are more since there's a shortage of housing for the homeless. Even in New York where there are more robust public programs for homeless families and childrens, needs now outstrip the supply.
But then we leave home to travel and want to keep up with news; lately we do not find the Times. Lucky us, U.S.A. Today is everywhere we stay. Theirs is a different point of view from what we're used to, brings us in contact with a more conservative view of the world.
July 31, headline: "The underlying duel of 2012: Seniors vs. Millennials." Along with the narrative which we have heard and will hear over and over again, I am startled by the photos chosen. Older white guy and young woman of color. This selection, not an accident in the news room, delivers a double-whammy. It's not devisive enough to point out how old folks "more engaged than in 2008," are in an ideological war with the young who favor Obama. The paper would have readers think that only black people will be voting for the President.
The kicker: the two in photo are grandpa and his granddaughter--so you can't say it's about racism. I can. In an effort at fairness, the paper's website features a sensible response from a reader in California:
"The future generation is being short-changed by cuts in education spending and the increasing cost of higher education. We are witnessing the dumbing-down of America."
In Yakima, Washington, my education is further expanded. On a sidewalk, a couple of people are campaigning for a local candidate. To get attention to what he stands for, they have used a photo-shopped image promoting impeach Obama that I had only seen on news programs. An even bigger one is attached to the side of the table.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
–Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad
“Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversation.” -- Elizabeth Drew, N.Y Review of Books